Curious on your comments….

Let’s use a fictional example.  Let’s say a niche agency, national, is expanding their lines to include some new products.  The products have been market tested by a handful of agents and seem good to go.  Now they want to recruit more agents and scale the new lines up. Thus the interest in a broker portal.  Should we buy or build?  Here’s a sample budget and timeline if outsourced to IdeaStar: $160k over about 12 months.

  • Phase One: Portal design and architecture, laying the foundation.  Recruited agents first complete a simple on-boarding process, an admin login facilitates the new-agent approval and continuing portal access.  The admin can also manage sales and marketing materials.
  • Phase Two: First product.  Most revenue, biggest perceived market.  Agent-driven Indication workflow, mapped PDF, data stored and accessible to both the agent and the H.O. admin.  Off-line quoting by the H.O. (or online quote engine), upload to the portal for agent review and presentation.  Binding Quote workflow, mapped PDF, data stored, etc.  Renewal workflow.
  • Phase Three: Second product, same functionalities modified to suit 2nd market.
  • Phase Four: 3rd Product, same functionalities modified to suit 3rd market.
  • Intentional Exclusions: Inbound and outbound data feeds, quote engines, state variations of mapped PDF’s.

So pretty straight forward in concept, but a LOT of work and a tremendous amount of potential portal development landmines every step of the way: 

  • design
  • architecture
  • usability
  • functionality
  • hosting
  • security
  • integration
  • maintenance
  • enhancements
  • marketing…

Unknowns/Uncertainties/Risks:

  • how many agents they will be able to recruit
  • how many of those will adopt the portal
  • and how well the product will sell.

If you do it in-house, perhaps you can test the waters at a lower cost, even understanding that this investment might be a throw-away if they then decide to outsource the full-blown portal.  However, by building it in-house with little experience, and thus potentially a less than optimal agent experience in the pilot, they would be risking making a critical long-term business decision based on imperfect decision (something I have seen over and over in our business).

Based on either your personal experience, your industry observations, and/or your understanding of agent-driven insurance sales and marketing, any advise or guidance?  Comment anonymously is fine, but it would be better if you’d give a little transparent background.  Our industry desperately needs transparency.

Thanks for your input.  GREATLY appreciated.  Happy to answer follow-up questions.

Btw, I tweeted this article from Forresters yesterday.  I think it’s not only relevant to this post, but it seems extremely relevant to the Life and Health insurance industry.  I know a few CEO’s get it, but the vast majority don’t seem to.

Oh yeah, on a lighter note, my son was on ESPN again!  Too funny.  Daughter Kelle made the sign.

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Oh, and the mission trips to Peru and the D.R. were fantastic…

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